Beverly Arts Center performance showcases first responders' stories

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A South Side theater is staging a drama next Tuesday that could have a real life impact on first responders, hoping to start a discussion about the everyday stresses they face and encouraging them to seek life-saving support.

Erin Ross' Beverly home is filled with happy memories of her brother Ryan Healy - but those happy memories can sometimes be tinged with sadness.

"Every holiday, every birthday, White Sox opening day - Ryan was a big White Sox fan. Lots of those things trigger memories for sure," she said.

Healy was a third generation Chicago police officer. He killed himself six years ago, when he was 38 years old.

"Ryan was the life of the party: Always a lot of fun and had everyone laughing, so really we were so caught off guard when this happened," Ross said.

19th Ward Alderman Matt O'Shea grew up with the Healy family.

"Everybody has been touched by this," O'Shea said. "It's an epidemic and nearly half the cases we have seen in the last few years have been residents of my community."

"First Responders Story Showcase," a play based on true stories from first responders, opened at Northside Theater and will soon open at the Beverly Arts Center. The performance is intended to give relatives and friends insight into real struggles that their loved ones face, and perhaps serve as an opportunity for someone in the audience to share their experience.

"If there is a responder in the audience that night, maybe something resonates with them and they feel empowered to reach out for help," Ross said.

Ross and O'Shea hope the performance will show first responders that they're not the first or only person to experience these feelings and that they're not alone.

"If we can make a connection with one first responder, then this event will be a success," O'Shea said.

Visit the Beverly Art Center's website for ticketing information.
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